During spells of warm weather, it is important to remember the following points when considering acceptable working conditions for employees:
- There is no maximum workplace temperature which is acceptable for work
It is a common misconception that there is a maximum workplace temperature set by the law which, once reached in the summer, means that employees are entitled to be sent home from work but in reality Health and Safety Regulations simply require workplace temperatures to be “reasonable”.
This applies all year round but employers can be faced with issues when temperatures outside increase, resulting in warmer working conditions.
- What is a reasonable temperature and how can this be measured?
Whether or not temperature is deemed reasonable will depend on the type of work and the nature of the workplace (e.g. is the work manual labour taking place outside?), however undertaking a risk assessment will help assess these factors to determine a reasonable workplace temperature.
It can also be useful to speak to employees to gain a majority view of a comfortable working temperature, or what could be done to make working conditions more comfortable.
- Don’t just ignore staff grumbles
Unfortunately it is difficult to please everyone and so there will always be some members of staff who remain too hot or too cold regardless but, rather than ignoring their grumbles, steps can be taken to address these before they result in formal grievances. Easy, but effective, steps can include providing portable desk fans or moving employees away from air conditioning units where possible.
Employers may also have a legal obligation to make workplace adjustments where a disabled employee has a medical condition which makes them more sensitive to extreme hot or cold temperatures, to reduce the effects of warmer workplace environments.
- Relaxing the dress code can have a positive effect
Most companies have a dress code in place but, whilst business dress is a popular option during the working week, wearing suits or formal clothing can be extremely uncomfortable over the summer months, especially in warmer workplaces or during the daily commute.
Having a summer dress code, or informing employees that the normal dress code is relaxed, will help everyone feel more comfortable in the office, however it is important to have some additional rules in place to ensure employees remain professional.
- Recognise the heat
It’s easy for employees to feel less engaged when it’s nice weather outside and they have to be at work, which can lead to increased sickness absence, as they wish to enjoy the hot weather while it lasts.
If employers can take steps to show that they value and appreciate their staff during hot weather, this will help employees to remain productive and motivated, while also reducing absenteeism. Some examples could include providing ice lollies, cold drinks or summer snacks to members of staff. Additionally, early finish incentives, providing certain targets are met, will also help to raise productivity as staff wish to make the most of their longer evenings.
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.
For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.